Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Kind of Douchey Business Practice

My boyfriend and I are in the process of moving across the country for a new job I've been hired for in DC (awesome!). And one decision we've been working on is whether we should both go at the same time, or if he should stay and continue his current job while I move to DC and make sure the job and the city are a good fit before we sell all our possessions.

But upon reviewing our lease, we found another reason he should stay (which is the decision we eventually came to): While our rental agreement is month-to-month, if we should vacate before we've been in our place less than 6 months, we have to pay a $250 "processing fee." We've been here roughly 3 months now (I knew, I just KNEW, that as soon as we moved from our last place, I'd get an offer requiring us to move again).

At first, I was like, meh, that sucks, but what are ya gonna do?

But then I thought about it.

The whole point of a lease is that it offers mutual benefits and protections for both the landlord and the tenant. Specifically, most of the time, your rent can't be increased during the term of the lease. However, most of the time, in a month-to-month situation, rent can be increased with like 30 days notice. So the benefit to the landlord is that you're secure in having a tenant for a minimum period, and the tenant has the security that their housing costs won't got up for the term of the lease (usually 6 months to a year).

Month-to-month is also somewhat handy for both sides. Namely, the landlord can increase rent when needed without having to wait a year for the terms of the original lease to expire, and the tenant can leave with only thirty days notice if, say, an awesome job opportunity in another city comes up.

You see where I'm going here?

The lease I signed (knowingly; I did remember a condition like that from when I originally read the lease, and that's why I looked it up) provides the landlord with most of the benefits of a lease (tenant more likely to stay for at least 6 months), while providing me with none (I have to pay a ridiculous fee if I want to take advantage of the ONLY benefit a tenant gets with a month-to-month lease).

That, I feel, is douchey.


  1. It's going to depend on the exact local laws, but that sort of clause might well be illegal. Of course, it would probably cost more than $250 in legal fees just to get an answer.